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Animal. 2009 Dec;3(12):1673-80. doi: 10.1017/S1751731109990668.

Estimation of genetic variation in residual variance in female and male broiler chickens.

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1Animal Breeding and Genomics Centre, Animal Sciences Group, PO Box 65, 8200 AB Lelystad, The Netherlands.


In breeding programs, robustness of animals and uniformity of end product can be improved by exploiting genetic variation in residual variance. Residual variance can be defined as environmental variance after accounting for all identifiable effects. The aims of this study were to estimate genetic variance in residual variance of body weight, and to estimate genetic correlations between body weight itself and its residual variance and between female and male residual variance for broilers. The data sets comprised 26 972 female and 24 407 male body weight records. Variance components were estimated with ASREML. Estimates of the heritability of residual variance were in the range 0.029 (s.e. = 0.003) to 0.047 (s.e. = 0.004). The genetic coefficients of variation were high, between 0.35 and 0.57. Heritabilities were higher in females than in males. Accounting for heterogeneous residual variance increased the heritabilities for body weight as well. Genetic correlations between body weight and its residual variance were -0.41 (s.e. = 0.032) and -0.45 (s.e. = 0.040), respectively, in females and males. The genetic correlation between female and male residual variance was 0.11 (s.e. = 0.089), indicating that female and male residual variance are different traits. Results indicate good opportunities to simultaneously increase the mean and improve uniformity of body weight of broilers by selection.


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